Da Vinci in detail: Leonardo's life and work — all pictures, all drawings! One of the most fully achieved human beings who has ever lived, Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) is recognized the world over as a figure of infinite curiosity, feverish imagination and sublime artistic ability.
This updated edition of our XL title provides the most comprehensive survey of the life and work of this master painter, sculptor, architect, scientist, and inventor. Its catalogue raisonné of Leonardo’s paintings covers both his surviving and his lost painted works. With full-bleed details of many paintings, the reader is able to inspect the subtlest facets of brushworks that came to revolutionize Art History.
A further catalog of Leonardo's drawings arranges nearly 700 of his drawings by category (architecture, technical, proportion, cartography, etc) and showcases his fabulous observational finesse, from anatomical studies to architectural plans, from complex engineering designs to pudgy infant portraits. It includes a fresh chapter exploring the artist's mesmerizing manuscripts.
The accompanying account of Leonardo's life and work includes a special in-depth exploration of his masterworks The Annunciation and The Last Supper.
Lying open, this unutterably wonderful book is almost the size of the Mona Lisa and about as hefty as a slab of The Last Supper's monastery wall. All 34 paintings are here (including what we know of the lost ones), many with huge and immensely illuminating details, plus 663 drawings. The reproductions are stunning, on paper sturdy enough to serve as wings on some of the flying machines depicted on pages 644 to 671. The precision of the images amazes: the delicate petals fingered by the larger-than-life-size baby Jesus in Madonna of the Carnation; the wailing, dismembered victims of Leonardo's scary scythed chariots; Mary's transparent drapery in the Annunciation; the bands of sunlight streaking each swirling curl of Ginevra de Benci; Mona Lisa's gossamer veil and intricately embroidered gown; even, unless my eyes deceive me, one of the fingerprints Leonardo famously left while daubing paint by hand.
The text by Frank Zollner (and Johannes Nathan, who discusses the drawings) teases out meanings and sketches historical context without overloading his scholarly brush. Without it, one might have overlooked the dim crucifix on which St. Jerome fixes his blazing gaze, and quite misunderstood the sexist Hippocratic delusions that inform The Sexual Act in Vertical Section
: "A tube-like duct leads from the woman’s breasts to her womb, while the male organ is directly linked not only to the testicles but also...to the brain." (Zollner’s discussion of the erotic subtext of some of the artwork suggests that Leonardo's male passion was not necessarily so rational.) The brief accounts of Leonardo's esthetic combat with Michelangelo and Raphael suggest that you don't need a scythed chariot to cut off an opponent at the knees. The famous quotes by everyone from Nietzsche to Warhol are well selected, especially Freud diagnosing Leonardo's genius as residing in his childlike sense of play. That's a key to the spirit of this book: it's more fun than a week in the Louvre. –Tim Appelo
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